As the director of Being Bold Coaching Academy, and one of the nation’s most respected real estate coaches and speakers, Caroline Bolderston is well-versed in the need to maintain focus on the task at hand, particularly when it comes to prospecting. Caroline addressed LJ Hooker’s Accelerate 2021 participants earlier this year to gauge their knowledge and understanding of what ‘full focus’ is.
Dedicating your attention to a single task until it’s complete is easier said than done, just ask Caroline Bolderston.
Caroline says that in the context of her discussion, ‘full’ means complete, and that each of the five letters that make up the word ‘focus’ can be used to illustrate the effectiveness of giving a task the full attention it requires: “Follow One Course Until Successful”.
Five things that stop us applying full focus
“There seems to be five key reasons that full focus doesn’t occur,” Caroline explains.
“Number one is the ‘what’, meaning you don’t quite know what to focus on.”
Caroline explains that determining the ‘who’ can also be a factor that limits people’s abilities to apply their full focus to a task.
“Is that sometimes the issue for you, you’re not quite sure who you should be focusing on?” she asks.
When it comes to ‘when’, Caroline explains that being cognisant of when it’s the right time to be in full focus can also be difficult to determine.
Caroline says ‘how’ relates to: “How do I strategically focus, and how do I minimise distractions and interruptions? How do I get the best strategies to help me with that?”
The fifth reason that Caroline suggests could potentially limit someone from applying their full focus is ‘want’.
“This can sometimes come as a bit of a shock,” she says. “Some people just don’t want to focus.”
Elaborating further, Caroline says focus can be perceived as restrictive and “not much fun”.
“Maybe you might like to be a bit more free-flowing and you’d like to be a little bit more instinctive or you’d like to react in the moment because that’s your energy type.
“So it’s not ‘I don’t want to do it’; it’s that you don’t necessarily want the feeling of what focus gives you.”
1. Three key elements of focus
Caroline says there are three key elements to improving your focus.
Firstly, she explains that people need to assess their beliefs to see how they might be holding them back from full focus.
Secondly, she mentions the concept of the ‘thought gateway’.
“What I mean is, how can you expand on what you think, and how does your thinking impact your focus,” she says.
Thirdly, Caroline says it is vital to gain some insight into how you can “get some structure around your focus”.
After dedicating much of her working life to human behavioural space, Caroline says she has realised assessing our own beliefs can be a key to realising our full potential.
She explains that “thinking fitness” is arguably as important as physical fitness.
“If your thinking is right, then you will think the right way around your physical fitness,” she offers by way of example.
“Where we’re at right now is based on… our thinking, our feelings and all the actions we’ve taken.”
2. Hierarchy of outcomes
Caroline says the hierarchy of outcomes “is a model that is at play every minute of every day and we’re not even aware of it”.
She says that the hierarchy is a pyramid, with “experiences” at its base.
“Experience is really all life is, it’s just a collection of massive experiences; it’s what happens from there that counts,” Caroline says.
“Our experiences drive the beliefs,” she adds, explaining that our beliefs drive actions and our actions drive results.
There is another layer to the hierarchy, which Caroline says sits in between our experiences and beliefs.
“In between our experiences and beliefs is a process, and it’s split-second,” she says.
Caroline explains that this split-second is a thought, which in turn drives a feeling.
“Now when we’re talking about full focus, what this is about is how you’ve got a choice point every day.”
3. The truths of life
Caroline explains that when she first understood that there were three different types of truths in life, it helped her comprehend things differently.
She says the first truth is “the actual truth”, meaning there is evidence to prove it to be 100 per cent correct.
Secondly, Caroline says an “apparent truth” is a truth that one has arrived at through their observations, thoughts and feelings.
“It becomes an apparent truth, or another word for that is ‘assumptions’,” Caroline says, explaining that assumptions – and specifically false assumptions – can lead to dangerous outcomes.
Thirdly, Caroline explains the concept of an “imagined truth”, which she describes as “something that’s not even based on anything that is evident”.
“It is something that is completely conjured up and fictitious, and often, it’s something that’s in the future. It’s ‘what if this happens?’ We have this imagined truth around things.”
Caroline uses the example of trying to focus on a specific task when we see a call or SMS coming through from a familiar number.
“We immediately come up with a little story in our head of what could be going on,” she says.
The actual truth of what the call or SMS is really about is often completely different from the apparent or imagined truth we arrived at.
“Therefore, because of these stories that we are creating in this choice point moment… we choose to break our focus,” Caroline says.
“We choose to stop what we’re doing; we stop following one course until successful.”
Caroline shares some helpful strategies for redefining beliefs and changing structures.
4. Changing the environment
Caroline suggests implementing a “do-not-disturb focus block”.
“Just don’t have (your phone) available, don’t have it with you, don’t have it on,” she suggests.
“If you want to follow one course until successful, then this is the ‘when’ piece, and the ‘how’ piece.”
She explains that by setting your phone to ‘do not disturb mode’, and applying your full focus to a task until it’s completed, you are eliminating the possibility of being distracted by apparent or imagined truths.
“We’ve got to look at where we’re shining our light, what we’re looking at in terms of our experiences and our beliefs,” Caroline says.
“You can redefine your beliefs, you can change them, but it comes back to what you’re saying to yourself.”
Caroline says redefining your beliefs should include analysing the expectations for yourself that you are projecting on to others.
If you have a habit of telling people, “I’m always available”, or “I’m always free to take your call”, you are setting yourself up to disappoint or lose focus.
Caroline discusses how changing her own strategy, by amending her voicemail message, greatly reduced her stress and increased her ability to apply full focus.
“They’re hearing, ‘You’ve reached Caroline Balderston, I’m either in a coaching session or delivering training right now. Please leave a message; I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m free’,” she says.
“I’m setting the expectation that I’m not always available, that I’m actually working, I’m not ignoring them, and the minute I changed that voicemail, it completely eased my stress and my fear.”
5. Change the way you talk about yourself
Caroline stresses the importance of removing self-denigrating language from your vocabulary.
“We need to replace that limiting language,” she says.
“No longer will you be talking to yourself about, ‘I am hopeless’, ‘I can’t’, ‘I am not good at’, ‘I am lost …’
“The minute you hear that, I want you to reframe your thought right then and there, and make it an expansion piece of thinking.
“So instead of saying, ‘I am not disciplined’, what will be different for you if you woke up every day and actually said, ‘I am highly disciplined’.”
Caroline suggests printing out your scheduled tasks.
“The reason I say print them – and you can PDF them if you don’t want to have paper – is you can get lost in your CRM and easily lose sight of where you’re up to,” she says.
“That physical visual helps you stay focused, and follow one course until successful.”
Caroline also explains why she has thrown away her traditional to-do list.
“If I just keep loading up things on the one list, I tend to scan that list all day every day.”
Caroline says instead of using a written to-do list, when a thought pops up, “defer it”.
Instead of having a sprawling and unallocated to-do list, Caroline advises allocating thoughts for a later time in an electronic diary, and moving on.
The final piece of advice Caroline offers is to be “like a flashlight” and “narrow your beam of focus”.
“It’s a metaphorical approach, but I find it’s really powerful because when you know you’re being distracted by everything else, just interrupt it and say ‘I am the flashlight’.”